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Student Story: Ryleigh Jacobs

Feb 22, 2017
2016 Valedictorian, Ryleigh Jacobs
2016 Valedictorian, Ryleigh Jacobs

In South Africa, we have a word: “ubuntu” (oo boontoo). Unfortunately, an English translation does not give justice to the essence of ubuntu. One definition of ubuntu translates it to mean: “I am only a person through other peoples.” A second translation defines ubuntu to mean: “I am because you are.”

While these two definitions mirror each other, the latter broadens the scope of what it means to be human. Our humanity is not only defined by our relationships with people, but by our relationship with God and the whole of creation.

I'm from South Africa. Recently I had the opportunity to deliver the valedictorian message for the class of 2016 at King's graduation ceremony. I knew my story alone could not do justice to the King's experience, so I sought out stories from my classmates. Listening to each story, I discovered what may seem profoundly obvious to you - at times cliché - but its true nonetheless. King's is community, it embodies ubuntu.

I have experienced ubuntu at King's, and in hearing friends' stories, it's clear they have, too. Many of them commented on the growth and transformation they experienced during their studies. As students, we were challenged and stretched. We had good days and bad, but our learning journey cultivated passions within our hearts.

King's is a place that is hospitable to questions about faith and identity. Now, a new difficult question emerges - how do we bring our King's moments to the world? I don't yet have the answer.

What I know is that thanks to ubuntu we go forward with courage and conviction, knowing that the seed of King's community is planted within us, waiting to be cultivated and brought to fruition.

I am who I am today because others have chosen to support my education. An education that has blessed me in more ways than just academics. “I am because you are”. King's is because you are.